Senator Marco Rubio in Israel
Senator Marco Rubio in IsraelFlash90

Florida Senator and 2016 Republican presidential contender Marco Rubio visited Israel over the weekend as part of a four-member delegation from the US Senate, wrapping up a tour of the Middle East.

Rubio, a staunch ally of Israel, visited Israel twice before: once prior to winning his first term as senator in 2010, and again as senator in 2013.

In a Facebook message posted just after he departed, Senator Rubio praised Israel as “an oasis of democracy and free enterprise” and expressed his hope that Ambassador-Delegate to Israel, David Friedman, will be confirmed by the full Senate.

“From the moment one sets foot in Israel, the evidence of freedom, progress and tolerance are evident everywhere, as Israel continues to be an oasis of democracy and free enterprise in a tumultuous region plagued with difficult security, foreign policy and economic challenges,” wrote Rubio.

“Upon arrival, I visited the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, where I look forward to soon seeing David Friedman confirmed by the Senate and working hard to restore the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

During the trip, Rubio and his fellow senators met with US officials stationed in Israel to discuss US programs in the region. The delegation also learned first-hand about security threats to Israel from Iran following the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, as well as Iranian proxy groups including Hamas and Hezbollah.

The Florida senator called the trip “an awe-inspiring experience”.

“Israel remains a shining example of what free people can accomplish anywhere in the world, and the impact that unwavering American support and smartly targeted U.S. international assistance can have in advancing our interests and values abroad. As a senator,‎ further strengthening the unique relationship between the U.S. and Israel remains one of my highest priorities.”

“May God bless Israel, may God bless the United States of America, and may God always watch over our close alliance.”